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KU students claim bias after riots

Kenyatta University students who were punished for allegedly participating in riots over  election materials found in the college have claimed politics played a part in the decision.

Ms Beatrice Odera, Mr Justus  Odhiambo, Mr Dan Oluoch and Mr Jilali Omondi on Wednesday told Justice Mumbi Ngugi at the Milimani law courts  that many students took part in the riots, but only they — members of the Orange Democratic Movement — were picked for disciplinary action.

Ms Odera was suspended for four semesters and fined Sh30,000, Mr Onyango and Mr Omondi got two semesters’ suspension with a fine of Sh30,000 each, while Mr Oluoch was expelled following the protests last year.

Mr Oluoch was expelled for being in possession of stolen IEBC materials, blotting the university’s image, burning a vehicle belonging to the electoral commission and arranging for outsiders to enter the university.

Through lawyer Gitobu Imanyara, the students claimed they had not been given sufficient time to defend themselves and that the reasons for the action were not sufficient.

“The students had the right to join a political party of their choice, but were treated differently from others because they supported the candidature of Mr Raila Odinga for the presidency,” the lawyer said.

The lawyer added that the action against the students violated their rights to assemble and demonstrate to contest the university being used for political purposes.

The students said they were not given the benefit of an impartial and credible body to hear their case.

A section of the students went on the rampage in the evening of March 15, after unused election materials were discovered in the varsity.

They smashed windows and broke into the Business Students Service Centre where the materials had been kept, claiming the institution might have been supporting electoral malpractices.

Kenyatta University Vice-Chancellor Olive Mugenda later explained that the materials were in the institution because it was used as a tallying centre. The hearing continues on February 17.